The original Star Wars Holiday Special holds a special place in the fandom’s consciousness. Unanimously derided as two of the worst hours of television ever created, the cash-in that brought back Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher has been the kicker of dozens of jokes – even mocked by the people who appeared in it (Anthony Daniels once called the special a “turd”). Thanks to Disney Plus, the whole sordid affair has come round full circle with a new LEGO Holiday Special that lovingly pokes fun at the Star Wars saga without ever being mean-spirited or vindictive. What you expect, then, from a LEGO production.
The 45-minute movie sees Rey and friends on Kashyyyk, the home planet of Chewbacca (and the same setting as the original Holiday Special) where they intend to celebrate Life Day. However, Rey quickly loses her temper with Finn, who has begun Jedi training, and she heads off to a new planet in search of a time-travelling object that will help with the training. Meanwhile, Finn, Poe, Chewie, and Rose are left behind to continue setting things up for Life Day celebrations, but it’s not the same without their entire extended family around.
From there, Rey jumps back in time using a special time stone, revisiting iconic moments from all the past Star Wars movies. She overhears pivotal conversations from the Skywalker saga – including those infamous trade negotiations – and witnesses iconic events already seared into our minds, such as Yoda and Luke on Dagobah. Thanks to this being LEGO, everything has added humour with the film chocked full of references and jokes akin to those in other LEGO series and games. The movie rightly plays with everything available in the Star Wars sandbox, jumping from movie to movie but never becoming confusing as Rey’s search for knowledge anchors everything.
Stuff really kicks off when things go wrong: a Return of the Jedi-era Darth Vader quickly gets on Rey’s tail. Worlds collide and, soon enough, podracers are whizzing around while Old Han Solo and Young Han Solo team up to take on a legless Darth Maul. It’s a joy to behold, with director Ken Cunningham having an obvious love for the series – particularly The Last Jedi, which seems to be the most referenced and revered of the main-saga movies here (Rise of Skywalker, on the other hand, rarely gets a nod).
Seeing characters from far-flung corners of the galaxy all come together will no doubt tickle fans, and there’s a simple, cliche Christmas message at its centre. Unfortunately, the story loses itself midway. The films front-loaded with stellar moments while some of the characters – all emphasised versions of their movie counterparts – become tiresome. When the climax arrives, you’ll be more than ready for Rey to finally dig into the roasted Tip-Yip.
While squarely aimed at children, this Holiday Special offers a lot for Star Wars fans to enjoy. Redemption for the 1978 monstrosity, this is.